My Edible Garden

I've been gardening for most of my life and have been a devoted fan of organic gardening the whole time. It just makes so much more sense to work in harmony with Mother Nature than to fight her. Besides which it is better for the planet and better for our bodies. Here you can see what I'm planting and harvesting, with gardening hints and resources thrown in for good measure.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Farmer Friday; Abundance Everywhere!

Ladybug larvae

ladybug larvae

I was very happy to see this ladybug larvae in the hoop house. They eat tons of aphids. This is why I am never in a hurry to 'weed' as often the weeds are full of these. If you pull them up and throw them away you lose a lot of these natural predators. And sad to say, for whatever reasons I have not seen as many ladybugs this spring as I have in the past. It might be the weather, I'm not sure. But so glad to see them now.

Mexican Evening Primrose
I love these little wild primroses. These popped up from some wildflower mixes I tossed out last fall.

Chocolate flowers, they really smell like chocolate!

Red Flax and Bachelor Buttons

Some more wild flowers are blooming.
Summer squash plants of all kinds

Gold Rush Zucchini

The squash plants are doing well. It looks like the Gold Rush Zucchini will be coming in first!

Summer Bibb Lettuce, bigger than a dinner plate!
Summer Bibb, red and green and delicious!

Burpee's Gourmet Mix
So far the lettuce is going gung ho. I don't know how much longer  it will last with the heat, so eating as much as I can while it lasts.

Best onions ever!
I did a small experimental planting of onions last fall and some of them are whoppers. I'll be planting a lot more this fall! I planted Granex and Barbosa, both of them did well.

Besides lettuce and onions there was a little bit of spinach, another 5 pounds of snap peas, curly and flat parsley. If I have time this evening I'll pick some bouquets too.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Farmer Friday; Peas in Overdrive

Snap Peas; the vines are loaded
Pea season in the desert is short, sometimes only 6 weeks, occasionally a little longer. Right now the vines are loaded. I have already picked 10 pounds this week from just three short rows (one row is about 18 ft, the other two between 20 and 25 feet). I picked peas this morning and when I was moved water hoses this evening saw more that need to be picked! However, they are predicting highs of 90 F on Monday, so pea season may be extra short this year. So I'll be seeding some melons and cucumbers next week to take their place as soon as the time comes.

Rainbow Beets
I planted some seedling beets in a hoop house late last fall as an experiment. They didn't do much until it warmed up, but now they are ready and delicious looking.

Summer Bibb lettuce
Photographs don't do the Summer Bibb lettuce justice, it is amazingly beautiful and very tender and tasty.

Scarlet Kale
The Scarlet Kale is a much deeper shade of red than the picture; in the shade it is almost purple.

Siberian or Red Russian Kale
The Red Russian kale is going strong but I see signs of bolting.

cut down Swiss Chard
The Swiss Chard has been trying to bolt for a couple of weeks. The nice thing about chard is that if you cut it down to the ground, give some good compost it will go back to making leaves again instead of seed stalks.  These chard plants are already over a year old.

the big hoop house today 4-21-2017
As I was finishing up this evening I took a moment to look back along the trail. I've done a lot of work and have accomplished a lot the past few years. There is a lot more to do but everyday I manage a little bit more. That bit of green along the trail here consists of Nanking cherry bushes, Arizona Pistache and Ash trees along with clovers and herbs like catmint, mugwort and lemon balm. Hiding out for now are newly planted zinias and marigolds. The bigger bushes farther along are burro brush and mesquite, which were about the only things here when I started. Oh and there's Tinkerbell, about ready to have her kittens pretty soon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Things are Changing Fast

Last of the spinach

We are having unusually warm weather here. Many years we have a snow storm roll through at Easter. Well this year we are having 80-85 degree days and 45-50 degree nights. So we are a solid month ahead of schedule. The last patch of spinach was getting aphids from the warm weather so out it came, to be replaced by cucumbers.

pulling out the bolting collards
planting Pak Choy

The collards were bolting and nothing I did would stop them from trying to flower and go back to making leaves. So out they came, to be replaced by some Pak Choy seedlings on one end of the bed and bush beans on the other end.

potato blossoms
The potato plants are growing well and some are blooming. The flowers are pretty and are slightly different colors on each variety.

Summer Bibb lettuce
The Summer Bibb lettuce is really pretty and ready to cut.

blossom on Sweet Magnolia, a purple snap pea
I didn't get the Sweet Magnolia's planted until it was pretty late, but they are finally blooming so there will be purple pods mixed in with the green ones this week or next.

lettuce seedlings tucked under tomato plants
I try to make use of every inch of space so after planting out the tomatoes, I planted lettuce seedlings between  them. The lettuce will be gone long before the tomatoes are too big.

tomatoes on strings
This year I am experimenting with growing tomatoes very intensively. They are planted close together and will be trained up strings and pruned hard. This is supposed to give you more perfect fruits. We shall see.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Farmer Friday; Things are Exploding Around Here!

Cilantro in bloom
Whoa! Things have been crazy around here this week! The garden is exploding with produce, flowers are blooming, bees buzzing, pesky rats, mice and squirrels have all shown up (and wiped out several crops!) Chicks and ducklings are hatching and growing like crazy.

Cilantro, aka Chinese Parsley is entirely edible, root, leaves, flowers, seeds and all. The seeds are known as the spice Coriander, but there are varieties that are slower going to seed, that are grown for the leaves. Cilantro is sort of an acquired taste. I find you love it or hate it, but once you develop a taste for it you actually crave it. I often snack on it while working. Cilantro in my climate is a winter weed, growing well while it is cool and damp, then running to seed when it gets hot. I always leave a few plants to bloom even if I don't need the seed. Great bee and butterfly fodder and I often see a lot of ladybugs on the plants. Cilantro will not grow in the summer heat, in fact the seeds won't even germinate when the soil warms up.

Collard greens
This is probably the last week for this patch of collard greens, it is trying hard to go to seed and a lot of leaves were damaged in the heavy winds last week.

part of the small hoophouse
The little hoop house has a motley collection of chard, lettuces and potted seedlings. along with a couple of flowers and a flowering radish.

A giant red mustard and chard
A Giant Red Mustard volunteered in the chard bed and is going to seed. The chard is also trying to bolt. The nice thing about chard is that if you cut them back and give them some fresh compost they will go back to making leaves. These plants are over a year old.

I grew this snapdragon from a cutting. It is easy to do, after they are done blooming cut the stem back and when the new shoots are big enough cut them off and put in some fine potting soil or seed starting mix. Keep in the shade and keep moist. They will grow new roots quickly.

Scarlet Kale
I don't have enough of the Scarlet Kale to bunch by itself, so you will find a few leaves mixed in with the Red Russian for now.

Dahlia seedling at perfect size for transplanting
This dahlia seedling is at the perfect stage for transplanting. Note how it does have roots through out the space BUT it is not root bound. Set in a bigger pot or the ground it is ready to take off and keep growing. Any plant held in a too small pot too long will get root bound and then it will try and bloom at a small size, even if transplanted later it will never make as good a showing as when moved at the right time. I transplanted about 60 of these into one gallon pots this week. Dinner plate dahlias from Baker Creek Heirlooms.
Dahlias all potted up

mixing potting soil; peat moss, worm castings, perlite
Black Beauty Tomato blooming

assorted pepper plants in new pots
weeding the beets aka cutting greens for the chickens
radish and carrot sprouts
The kittens grew up
Sweet Magnolia, purple snap peas, blooming
picking snap peas
8 pounds and 12 ounces of snap peas
Ameraucana baby

Friday, April 7, 2017

Farmer Friday; I HAS PEAS!

The peas are in!
I LOVE peas! Any kind, any way (except canned; canned peas are just nasty). Snap peas, snow peas, shelling peas, soup peas. Raw, steamed, stir fried. Yummy! This year I only had room for some rows of green and purple snap peas. Hopefully next year I'll be able to plant some of the other kinds too. But the peas are in and the vines are loaded. Peas season isn't very long here because they don't like the heat so I just gorge on them while I can.

Buttercrunch lettuce
The Buttercrunch lettuce is ready and the heads look really nice. Buttercrunch is sort of a cross between butterhead and crisp head lettuce. Lettuce season is also short here. As soon as it stays about 80-85 degrees or warmer every day the seeds won't sprout and the plants will be bolting (going to seed) which makes them bitter.

Collard greens
Getting ready for the Superior Farmer's Market tomorrow (Superior, Arizona). Besides peas and lettuce, there will be the usual kale, collards, rainbow chard, spinach, fresh eggs and cilantro. See you there!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

All Kinds of Cheeping goin' on!

mystery flower
I tossed out wildflower and other seeds over the winter and this is one of the things popping up. Have no idea what it is, but it is a pretty little blue flower. Forget me Not perhaps?

planting carrots
The baby mustard got tough and was trying to bolt so I fed it all to the chickens and worked up the bed. Normally I would broadcast carrot seed this time of year, but we have been pretty warm and dry so I used my summer sowing technique. With my triangular hoe I make a little furrow and sprinkle some worm castings in the bottom, sow my seeds and cover with more castings. The  worm castings are rich in organic matter, soluble plant foods and even plant growth hormones. They will help keep the seeds moist and provide excellent nutrition for the seedlings. I planted a short row of Amarillo Yellow, Pusa Rudhira (bright red from India, supposed to have very high lycopene content) and Atomic Red. I planted 2 rows of Rainbow Mix. I watered them in well and covered them with a row cover.

52 Tomato plants going in
Last year at this time I was putting tomato plants into 1 gallon pots, in case we had a late frost and I needed to bring them in. This year I am more daring and have put them straight into the ground under row covers. This is the 'way back' garden. Some of this years tomato varieties are Snow White, Black Cherry, Berries & Cream, Yellow Pear, Chocolate Pear along with Black Beauty and Black from Tula.

3rd Hatch of the season
I now have 3 hatches of chicks (and some baby ducks!) with several more to go. Some of the cuties in the last hatch are for a friend of mine and some are for me. Baby ducks are just so stink' adorable!